Wesley So goes all the way to American Cup Champion’s Bracket final

Wesley So American Cup Champion's Bracket final
Wesley So outplayed the American Cup defending champion to advance to the Champion’s Bracket final of the 2023 American Cup. Saint Louis Chess Club photo from Day 4 by Lennart Ootes.

Wesley So is going all the way to the 2023 American Cup Champion’s Bracket final after winning his semi-final match and sending the tourney’s inaugural winner to the Elimination Bracket in the ongoing series at the Saint Louis Chess Club in Missouri.

Filipino American Grandmaster Wesley So won the first tiebreaker game playing white pieces and drew the second tiebreaker game playing black against Italian American GM Fabiano Caruana to earn the right to face Japan-born American GM Hikaru Nakamura in the Champion’s Bracket final of the double-round knockout competition between the 8 best overall players living in the United States.

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So and Caruana drew their two Round 2 classical games played on Days 3 and 4, forcing the double rapid games on March 20 (March 21 Philippine Time) at the World Chess Hall of Fame. With So winning the first tiebreaker game, he only needed to draw the second game to come out as a winner in the semifinals. After realizing they were already playing over the 50-move rule, Wesley So told the arbiter that he was claiming a draw and got what he asked for.

In the American Cup post-game interview and games analyses, Wesley So credited his winning to some help from the opponent and good time management owing to some practice he was able to recently gain in speed chess when he played and won the 2023 World Chess Armageddon Championship Series: Americas leg held in Berlin, Germany.

“The first game (of the playoffs) went quite smoothly, to be fair. I was very pleased when I won this game,” shared So.

“But then the second game… I messed up, I relaxed too early (and lost my advantage),” the Fil-Am champion said in his characteristic humble demeanor.

So has maintained a zero-losses scorecard on his way to the Champion’s Bracket final, winning his matches against Sam Shankland and tourney favorite, Caruana.

Wesley So will again face a tourney favorite, Hikaru Nakamura, in the Champion’s Bracket final on March 21 (March 22 PST).

“I thought his full-time job as a streamer affected his classical chess but he is now playing like (World No. 1) Magnus Carlsen,” observed So of his opponent in the upcoming battle.

The winner of the Champion’s match between So and Nakamura who had won his Champion’s semifinal match against Cuban-American GM Leinier Dominguez, will afterward face the winner of the Elimination Bracket where defeated players, now including Caruana, continue to play for the right to the American Cup title.

The American Cup tourney runs until March 26 in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Wesley So is a three-time US Chess Champion and two-time Grand Chess Tour winner who started his career in the Philippines. He is playing to win his second title this year after his victory at the World Chess Armageddon Championship Series: Americas leg held in Berlin, Germany, and earning a spot in the tournament’s Grand Finale.

Wesley so is the current leader of the FIDE Circuit, the newest qualification path to the 2024 Candidates Tournament which decides the challenger for the World Championship match.

WATCH Wesley So play in the American Cup live here at 1:30 pm CDT (12:30 AM Philippine Standard Time) and SEND WELL WISHES in the comments below as Wesley So goes to battle in the Champion’s Bracket of the American Cup 2023!

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